Runes For All

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The Rede

studying runes for the joy of it

May 20th, 2008

Book Review: The Complete Illustrated Guide To RUNES by Nigel Pennick

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I have to say that I was sorely disappointed in this book. Mr. Pennick had his mythology off.. And I know you are probably going to get tired of hearing me state this as a reason to dislike a writer, but it sticks in my craw, if an author cannot get their mythology right, then what else are they getting wrong? You don't have to be a Heathen to understand the myths that the runes are based on. Really. Mr. Pennick had a lot of interesting information about the runes as pertained to the British Isles. I would like to think that all of it is valid, but I'm not totally sure in this case.At any rate, it was neat. One thing that was a turn off, was that he referenced Ralph Blum an awful lot, and I have no respect whatsoever for Mr. Blum, nor does any long term runester that I know of. So this again made me feel.. Iffy toward him. He did have some interesting things which he attempted to do in this book however.. For example, rather than just putting up pictures of the varied futharks, with the names of the letters beside them, Mr. Pennick briefly covered each futhark in turn, in the book. I was somewhat impressed by his attempt to do this. But, I think that he probably was trying a bit too hard at times. For example, he tried also to give 'female slants/definitions' to each of the runes. While that is nice, the definitions he gave were in my opinion stretching it on several of the runes if not 'out there' ... Also, he defines the runes as a whole as being a product of a male dominated society that had little regard for women as it concentrated mainly on plunder and so forth. I see this as a very neo-pagan attitude, and I don't see him as having a very sympathetic attitude toward Norse Culture, if this is so why is he writing a book on runes? He also states that runes should only be used as a force for 'good' and all that stuff which sounds extremely neo-paganistic. I would not deign to tell someone how to use the runes, I would only explain to them about taking personal responsibility for their actions, and give them some backing as to what might occur a result to their action. The Norse weren't worried about 'forces for good' to my knowledge. If so, why did they have Nidhing Poles? The other thing he goes into that I was interested in was Rune Yoga. There are only a few brief pages on it though, and I would have liked to have seen more. He does have some useful spreads in the back of the book. Some of them are very elegant in their simplicity. Others I think trip themselves up and frankly aren't worth the trouble.I do like the fact that he shows varied media being used for rune casting. He shows sticks being cast, he shows stones being used, and he shows rune-cards. Rather nice there. All in all? I'm not a fan of this book, if you want to buy it for the layouts, go for it. The pictures are very nice, but the content? I would grade it at about a C to a C-.
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